Any relationship is going to have its ups and downs, regardless of how well both parties get along with one another. But one of the biggest obstacles responsible for the most break-ups among couples is the issue of finances. It’s a difficult subject to talk about because money is such an essential component of our daily lives. When one party isn’t making as much as the other or the spending has gotten out of control, that can start to create a rift and no matter if you’re dating, living together, or legally married, it can be a tough conflict to overcome. Unfortunately, many couples make basic, fundamental mistakes when they discuss money matters with one another mainly due to the fact that they wait far too long to broach the subject. A conversation about money is typically initiated only when there is a problem and that can lead to fighting, resentment, and, if you’re not careful, the end of the relationship.

So how do you discuss money with your spouse or significant other? It’s not always easy to get the conversation started, but we have a few useful tips to help you get into a thoughtful and adult discussion about money. Although it is a critical topic to bring up, doing it in a way that avoids confrontation and accusation will not only be more productive towards solving any current problems but also ensure the longevity of your relationship with your spouse.

Communication is Key

Every relationship is built on trust and effective communication. Without these two things, a couple is going to have a very difficult time establishing a foundation for a long-term commitment. Keeping that in mind, the best way to approach the topic of money with your spouse is to do it before he or she assumes that role in your life. If you and your partner aren’t aware of each other’s attitudes towards money and how you believe it should be handled, then it’s a dialogue that needs to happen as quickly as possible. If the two of you have wildly divergent points of view, then that might be a warning sign of potential issues later on in the relationship.

One partner may be fiscally conservative; the other may have a more liberal approach to handling money. There’s no reason the two partners can’t have a long, happy life together, just as long as they can get on the same page and come to an accord or compromise where they can meet each other halfway. Establish some boundaries and agree on priorities when it comes to managing money sensibly, that can all be done if you learn how to communicate with one another and do so from the get-go.

Refrain from Yelling

Sometimes communication can be a challenge and it happens when the conversation becomes an argument. Yelling and screaming has never been an effective method to identify or solve a problem, which is why it is critical that you and your partner refrain from getting into a shouting match when the topic turns to money. When we start to yell, two things are happening. The first is that each party is struggling to overpower the other in trying to get his or her point across to their partner. The second is that yelling puts greater focus on getting your ideas out and less of it on hearing what the other person has to say.

So when you and your partner get into any dialogue about money, it’s important that the two you agree not to start yelling during the conversation. If the conversation starts to get heated enough to the point where yelling becomes a component of the exchange, then it’s time to put a temporary stop to the proceedings and wait until the two of you cool down. Then you can re-engage with your partner and try to iron out any financial issues that may be present in the relationship. But the two of you must make a concerted effort to avoid yelling if anything is going to get solved.

Arguing Solves Nothing

When you raise your voice that only serves to increase the likelihood of an argument breaking out. That’s because arguing solves nothing and it makes having a tough conversation even more difficult. This is not to suggest that you and your spouse won’t disagree on certain areas of the matter, it’s likely you will, and that is perfectly normal. But when it takes on the profile of a contentious tete-a-tete, then your roles shift from the members of a loving relationship into adversaries and that is no way to take on any type of challenge. The two of you are supposed to be a team, not working against one another, but that’s just what happens when you bicker instead of listen and respond.

It’s so crucial to keep this in mind when you sit down to talk about money and why yelling should never be part of the equation.

Designate a Time to Speak

This can be the best way to avoid the subject of money being a contentious subject. Instead of discussing the finances when a problem arises, choose a day and time to routinely talk about money. Once a month, the two of you should sit down and go over the state of your finances, even when there isn’t an issue to discuss. A few minutes to check in with one another and review how much is coming in, how much is going out, and what the money is being allocated towards can alleviate the feeling that the subject is taboo. Even more important, both partners feel like they are engaged in the discussion as opposed to one feeling like they are the only responsible party when it comes to money or the other feeling like they are being attacked for the way they handle the finances. An open and honest dialogue on a consistent basis can make talking about money feel comfortable for everyone and make it easier to find solutions to problems as they come up.